There is something addictive about Davidson's series, a bit like sinking into a comfortable leather armchair with a cup of hot cocoa and a dash of brandy while you watch a classic movie. You won't be shocked or challenged, but you will relax into a known and perhaps even loved series of characters. I expect to return to Crunch Tim again when a need arises for an escape from the current reality in a pleasant world with just that frisson of evil to keep me from falling into lassitude.
Rosenblat does her usual, remarkable job of bringing characters to life with different voices and rhythms. Long may she narrate!
Grace under fire is the order of the day when Jacqueline Kirby returns, this time to sort out the ills and the ill-matched of a writers' conference for romantic novels. She is her same predictably unpredictable self and manages to find the solution to this mystery with a twist. Peters' characters are quirky and satisfying and Conlin's narration, a great pleasure. She captures Jacqueline's nature with purring, yet brisk tones and gives the other voices individuality. It's a romp that races through cliches without becoming one. While not quite as unique as "The Murders of Richard the III", it remains a satisfying guilty pleasure and thorough enjoyment.
This amusing mystery has just enough bite to keep it from being too cosy. In fact, the plot revolves around the war between the cosy mystery, as represented by the redoubtable Agatha Christie and the hardboiled, but not challenging, i.e. Mickey Spillane. It's a frolic through Dame Agatha's works, including some lesser known surprises, at a convention lauding her. The characters, although not deep, are also not stereotyped, with the exception of the heroine's somewhat boringly perfect husband. But ignore Max--all too easy to do--and you'll enjoy this frothy, but not fluffy novel. Okay, I guessed the killer half-way through the book, but still had fun. And who doesn't enjoy Christie Redux?
I would recommend this book to anyone who loved The Seven Percent Solution and doesn't take himself/herself or the Holmes Canon too seriously. It's revisionist fun, the Holmes that Conan Doyle might have created if he had been a SNAG (sensivitive, new age guy.) The Beekeeper's Apprentice herself is engaging, quirkly, independent and Holme's uber-bright soul mate. But don't let me spoil anything. Listen to this surprising story of the maddest may/december non-romance ever written about the Great Dectective.
Zen Skywalker Saga
The initiate brother himself, of course, although the novel is filled with wonderful characters. This is a classic Joseph Campbell hero story set in a fascinating fantasy world evocative of Japanese samurai, Chinese myths and martial arts. It's Star Wars for adults with political intrigue, layered motives and nuanced characterizations. This is no comic book, but a thoroughly conceived, multidimentional world.
Enjoy the twists of a plot as intricate as one of those carved ivory balls-within-balls where every part moves independently but all are part of the whole.
Venetia is one of Georgette Heyer's best works, but this abridgement, which cuts out all the delightful characters that should weave in and out of the main plot, doesn't do the novel justice. You read Heyer for more than romance and escapism--she is able to weld humor, the nuances of the age, class conflicts and suble social commentary into a genre which she essentially created. No writer since has managed the trick. To abridge this work so brutally cuts out the very aspects of the story which set Heyer apart from and above the run-of-the-romance novel. Wait for an unabridged version to come out!
Nagio Marsh is perhaps on one of the least well-known of the Golden Age mystery writers, but her plots are always well-knitted and her characters intriguingly quirky. They don't come any more eccentric than the Lamprey family, from whom the title comes, and her device of inserting the shrewd, but unsophisticated New Zealander allows for telling commentary on both the other charaters and English society in a gentle manner. The murder is suitabley gruesome and mysterious,. The murderer is not at all obvious and yet clearly indicated in hindsight, a feat easier to read than to write. I certainly recommend this book as one of the author's best.
Marsh's estimable hero, the upper-class, oh-so-suave Roderick Alleyn, does become a little tiresome, but the fault is in the writing. Alleyn needs a few faults and foibles to be truly lovable. The performance itself is workmanlike and enjoyable.
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